Demobilisation of both government and Renamo troops from UN assembly points in Mozambique has finally begun, more than two months behind schedule.
According to the UN Operation in Mozambique (Onumoz), demobilisation of government troops in the province of Inhambane has begun at Massinga, while that of Renamo began one week later at Neves. The first cycle of infantry training for the new unified defence force, the FADM, which should have started on 19 March, was postponed for at least ten days, owing in part to a financial dispute over wages.
The initial demobilisation of government troops began on 10 March and was to extend to 18 of their 29 assembly points in the following three weeks.
The Onumoz schedule plans to demobilise 250 of the almost 1,200 soldiers at Massinga in the first phase, followed by a further 750 men over the next three to four weeks.
In all, the government plans to demobilise at least 7,400 of its troops by mid-April. In fact, the figure is almost certain to be higher because the numbers to be sent home have not yet been fixed for seven of the assembly points concerned.
Renamo began by demobilising 101 men from the assembly point at Neves on 18 March. However, by the end of the month, according to Onumoz, only three more of Renamo's 20 assembly points had been demobbed: Changanine, in the southern province of Gaza, and Namicunde and Mavago in the northernmost province of Niassa. The government sent 384 troops to the assembly points on 18 and 19 March, according to figures released by Onumoz. To date, 32,524 government troops and 13,730 Renamo fighters have arrived. Together these represent 53% of the total number of government troops expected to pass through the assembly points and 72% of the expected Renamo total.
Meanwhile, a further 1,694 troops have left the assembly points to join the new FADM.
The departures have so far been for the training of special units (commandos), marines and logistical staff .
So far, no agreement has been reached...